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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

That 'balanced' approach

“A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and the multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life. With a novelist, like a surgeon, you have to get a feeling that you've fallen into good hands - someone from whom you can accept the anesthetic with confidence.” – Saul Bellow

Bellow's writing is always so mesmerizing that you never have to worry about being anesthetized.  Canadian by birth and later a naturalized U.S. citizen, Bellow attended the University of Chicago and Northwestern University where he studied writing and English but earned degrees in sociology and anthropology.  The fact that he was an anthropologist probably is not a surprise for his readers who find anthropological references sprinkled throughout his many award-winning books.   

Best known for his Adventures of Augie March, which some have labeled “the 20th century Don Quixote,” Herzog, and Humboldt’s Gift, Bellow won every major writing award, including the Nobel Prize in Literature for his life’s works.  He is the only writer to win the National Book Award for Fiction 3 times and also was honored with the Lifetime Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the National Medal of Arts, and 2 Pulitzer Prizes.

His friend and protégé Phillip Roth said of him, "The backbone of 20th-century American literature (Bellow was officially naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1941) has been provided by two novelists—William Faulkner and Saul Bellow. Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th century."  Born his date in 1915, Bellow died in 2005.

Saul Bellow

Well-liked for his wry sense of humor, he once noted “You know, you never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write down.” Having done that myself on many occasions, I'm glad it's not just me, although unlike Bellow's 3 a.m. musings, I'm not sure any of my middle-of-the-night work will ever reach the published page, although one can always hope.  Maybe that's why their called "dreams."

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